Friday, September 9, 2011
It was Tuesday. That meant today’s special was shepherds pie. And shepherds pie guaranteed he’d be in for lunch.
Amanda Fischer wrapped an apron around her waist, pinned her name badge on her uniform, checked her appearance in the reflection of the pastry case. She walked the length of the front counter, topping up coffee cups.
“How are you today, Mr. Wendel?”
“I’d be better if you’d marry me.” This was Roger Wendel’s usual response.
“After fifty years of marriage, your wife would hunt me down if I snatched you away from her.”
Roger Wendel laughed, a loud barking snort that made Amanda smile. “You have that right.”
“I’ll have to ask her what her secret was to catch such a wonderful man.”
The elderly man waved her off, his cheeks crimson.
She was aware the moment Jason Everette walked in the door. Every woman in town was aware of him. Intense eyes, so dark it was difficult to distinguish the pupils, watched as though they could see right through you. It made a girl feel needy, thought Amanda, and just a little reckless.
Jason sat down at the counter next to Roger Wendel and pulled a laminated menu from the metal rack, pretended to read. He knew what he wanted, the reason he came for lunch every Tuesday—and most other days. It wasn’t the shepherds pie.
“The usual?” Amanda set a cup in front of him, poured coffee. She moved the sugar out of the way, knowing he took it black.
Jason’s lopsided grin brought out the dimple in his left cheek. It always made her heart hitch. “Am I that predictable?”
“A little.” Wasn’t it cute how his ears went pink when he blushed? “You’ve been coming in here for three weeks now. It doesn’t take long to notice a pattern.”
“I don’t like cooking for myself. It’s…” he moved a shoulder, an agitated gestured “…lonely.”
Roger Wendel made a show of clearing his throat. “A smart man would ask a woman over for dinner.” He stared at a point above the pastry case, speaking, it appeared, to no one in particular. “A smarter man would ask her to bring her famous apple crumble.” Roger slapped a few bills on the counter before leaving. “Just sayin’.”
The hollow in Jason’s cheek deepened. “Well?”
Outside, Amanda was calm, elegant. “Is seven ok?” Inside, she did the first-date dance.